Differences Between a Fracture and a Break

Jan 3, 2022

Differences Between a Fracture and a Break

When dealing with a potential injury, it can be confusing to hear two terms thrown around, seemingly interchangeably. What’s the difference between a fracture and a break? How do you know which one applies to you? As it turns out, you’d be right to be reasonably confused because the two terms are interchangeable. Both a fracture and a break refer to the bone being shattered. Whatever term your injury is determined to be, either a fracture or a break, AICA Atlanta Chiropractic can help. More than just chiropractic treatment for headaches, AICA Atlanta Chiropractic has an established, trusted, and comprehensive approach to pain relief and accidental injury.

What Causes a Fracture or a Break?

AICA Atlanta Chiropractic has in-house diagnostics and in-house rehab to help with fractures and breaks. More than 1 million people each year find themselves with bone fractures or breaks, so they are fairly common.

Signs You Have a Fracture

If you suspect you might have a fracture or break, it is a medical emergency, and you should go to the hospital as quickly as possible. If you are unable to walk, you should call an ambulance. You may have experienced an acute event that would indicate to you that you have a potential fracture. So, you might not be surprised if you are feeling pain following an incident. Pain is the first symptom and indicator of a fracture or break. If you have a fracture or break, you’ll likely feel increased pain when you move or try to put weight on the injured area.

You might have other symptoms of a fracture or break. These could include:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising or changes in skin color
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Bone poking through the skin

Causes of Fractures

Many things can cause a bone fracture or break: falls, car accident injuries, sports injuries. Anytime a bone is struck or a bone comes in contact with something stronger than it, a fracture is possible.

In other instances, wear and tear, like running, can cause tiny fractures in bones called hairline fractures or stress fractures.

Lastly, fractures can result from an infection, illness, or cancer that weakens the bone. Conditions like osteoporosis specifically can lead to bone weakness and fractures.

Things You Can Do to Prevent Fractures

While some fractures may be inevitable due to accident or injury, there are ways to mitigate those risks by keeping your bones as healthy as possible. While age can come with some increased risks, you can fight against easy bone breakage with increased calcium and healthy exercises that work to keep your bones strong, and therefore less prone to breakage. Everyone peaks at different times when it comes to bone density and health. Most people begin to lose bone mass after the age of 40, but your unique genetic can make you more or less likely to have bone breakage.

For men and women over the age of 40, it is recommended by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons that they have a daily intake of calcium of 1,000 mg per day. Additionally, vitamin D is essential to healthy bones, and the recommended dosage is 1,000 international units per day. For women who have gone through menopause, the recommended daily calcium intake is higher – 1,200 mg per day – because of hormonal changes that make your body more prone to bone breakage.

In addition to vitamins and a healthy exercise routine (which should always be a conversation with your doctor), there are several easy and common-sense ways to avoid fractures or breaks:

  • Wearing flat or well-fitting shoes
  • Don’t leave clutter on the floor or around your house
  • Wires, cords, and other materials that could easily trip you up should be out of walkways
  • Make sure your rugs are secure in place and don’t move under you when you walk on them
  • Exercise, physical therapy, and other balance-enhancing programs can help you with core strength and overall balance
  • If you’re unsteady on your feet for any reason, whether it’s chronic or temporary, use a cane to help you

How Are Fractures Diagnosed?

Fractures and breaks need to be diagnosed by a doctor. At AICA Atlanta Chiropractic, we have a comprehensive staff that can examine the affected injured area to determine if you’re suffering from a break or fracture. Because we have in-house diagnostics, we can also take MRIs and X-rays if needed.

Doctors will examine you to understand the extent of your injury- whether or not there is a fracture or break, and if there’s any damage to joints, nerves, or blood vessels. MRIs and X-rays help determine the extent and severity of the injury. These diagnostics procedures show fractures and breaks in great detail, giving doctors the ability to understand how a fracture might have affected the surrounding muscle tissue or tendons around the broken bone.

Depending on the severity and location of the injury, your doctor may recommend one or several courses of treatment. At AICA Atlanta Chiropractic, we have the ability to provide diagnostics, physical therapy for any pre or post-surgical procedures and also offer some alternative treatment options.

In most cases, bone tissue is immobilized in order to protect the new bone tissue that is growing to reconnect the fracture. This immobilization is typically done through a cast, splint, sling, or combination. All of these devices are designed to keep your bones steady and aligned during the healing process and to prevent further injury. Occasionally surgery is needed to reset or provide further clearing or setting for the bone to heal properly.

How Long Does It Take for a Fracture to Heal?

Because fractures are common, the good news is that most fractures or breaks heal within six to eight weeks. The better news is that children are resilient and tend to heal faster. All of this depends, of course, on the location and severity of the break. Your doctor will make specific recommendations to you during your treatment plan. Even though your pain may have subsided, it does not mean the area is fully healed. It’s important to keep your fractured area protected for the full duration of your doctor’s healing plan.


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